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Panda bears are some of the most loved and yet most elusive animals on Earth. While scientists have learned a great deal about panda bears, the endangered species live in the highly specialized--and increasingly vanishing--bamboo forests of China, and are considered solitary and secretive. However, as a result of both studies in zoos and in the wild, scientists have discovered many facts about baby panda bears.
The gestational period of baby panda bears is between 95 and 160 days, and while two cubs may be delivered, often only one will survive.
Panda bears are the smallest newborn mammal, aside from marsupials, in relation to the size of the mother panda bear. Baby panda bears weigh only 3 to 5 oz., and are similar in length and width to a stick of butter.
For the first 6 to 8 weeks of life, baby panda bears cannot open their eyes, and they are virtually immobile until they reach 3 months of age. Baby panda bears are entirely dependent on their mothers for nutrition in the first months of life, and are not weaned until they're 1 year of age.
The known facts about baby panda bears indicate that significant development milestones are reached between 5 months and 1 year of age. During this time, baby panda bears imitate much of their mothers' behavior, include walking, climbing trees and eating bamboo.
By age 2 baby panda bears leave their mothers and begin their lives on their own. Unfortunately, there are all too few adult and baby panda bears left in the wild, with a population of only 1,600 today. Facts about the life expectancy of baby panda bears in the wild are uncertain, but scientists believe it is less than 35 years.